Dyslexia May be Linked to Concussion Susceptibility

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New research from Semyon Sloubonov, professor of kinesiology and director of the Virtual Reality/Traumatic Brain Injury research laboratory at Penn State, and Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Medicine Warren Wright Adolescent Center has concluded that there may be a link between football players with dyslexia genes and their susceptibility to concussion.

The results of the research were based on 87 Division 1 football players and were published in the Journal of Neurotrauma this month. Players were asked to report how many concussions they had sustained from high school onward. They also had their cheeks swabbed for DNA samples. The researchers then determined whether there was a relationship between the presence of certain genes and the number of concussions sustained.

They found that players who had many concussions also had the gene which is related to dyslexia in individuals. Researchers think this could be a useful tool for predicting children’s susceptibility to concussion. In theory this information could allow parents and coaches to possibly redirect especially susceptible children to other activities.

These findings are among the first that show a potential link between genetics and concussion. “Our study demonstrates an association between an athlete’s genetics and his/her concussion risk,” said Dr. Peter Seidenberg, an author on the paper.

High risk activities such as football, hockey and skiing have been shown to cause long term brain damage to individuals due to repeated micro concussions and concussions sustained from years of practice and play. It has now been acknowledged that repeated concussions for professional players and high level amateur patients is linked to the onset of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) which causes severe cognitive and behavioral changes, and death.

You can read the entire paper here.